Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The return of the blog: Italian Eggplant Ragout

Four months without an entry? Does that even constitute a blog? Among my New Year's Resolutions (there will be some this year, for a change), is to get back to blogging. I've done a poor job of late, especially with my half-hearted attempts at a daily "Michigan Etsy Shop of the Day" over on Monkita Knits.

Not without good reason, I suppose. I've been nannying and knitting myself ragged. I see the light at the end of the Christmas-rush-order tunnel and I'm going to start with a few blogs in the next week or so (hopefully). For months I've been taking pictures of the delicious things I've been cooking (though few and far between), so now it's time to go back through iPhoto and catch up.

Up first is something I made last week, actually: Italian Eggplant Ragout, a vegan dish from the May 2008 Vegetarian Times

Eggplant can be a good hearty meat substitute and it's full of antioxidants. It's very good for people looking to lower their cholesterol too.

Serves 6

2 medium eggplants (I used one large and it was quite a bit)
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 c.)
2 cloves garlic minced (about 2 tsp)
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp. capers
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

1. Half and seed eggplants. Cut into 3/4-inch chunks and toss with salt in a bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes, then drain, rinse and pat dry. This draws out the bitter juices of some eggplants and helps it hold its shape and not get mushy while cooking.

2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more, until fragrant.

3. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas and eggplant. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 15 minutes or until eggplant is tender but not mushy. I stirred mine often to make sure everything cooked as evenly as possible.

4. Stir in capers and sugar, and cook about 2 minutes more. Fold in parsley and season with black pepper.


On the side that night, I made some crispy rosemary potatoes, so I figured I'd take a picture of those too!

Cut up any combination of potatoes you like -- I used a few sweet potatoes and a couple of large redskin potatoes.

Preheat oven to 425

1. Peel potatoes (I left the skin on my reds) and cut into about 1-inch chunks.

2. Put in pot and fill with water until potatoes are just covered. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 5 minutes.

3. Drain and return to pan. Toss in 2-3 Tbsp. of butter and a drizzle (about 1 Tbsp.) of olive oil and coat potatoes.

4. Chop fresh rosemary (how much is up to you -- I used quite a bit and it still didn't seem like very much!), add to potatoes, along with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Spray a couple of cookie sheets/cake pans with PAM if you have it, then spread potatoes in a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, tossing at least once, until your desired crispiness is reached.

They are flavorful and delicious!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cass Cafe: Go now!

I'm always looking for new restaurants and last Saturday, D continued the "making Kirsten's dreams come true" birthday tour by taking me to Cass Cafe for the first time, before we hit up Awesome Fest at the Magic Stick.

My stomach was feeling a little off so I didn't want much to eat, but what I had was GOOD.

D and I split the hummus plate appetizer, which came with some tapenade that I think involved sun-dried tomatoes, olives and some other stuff. D stayed away from it, but I loved it.

I DID feel well enough to enjoy their $3 margarita special. It was great! So often margaritas are too much mix and you can't taste any tequila. It was reminiscent of the margaritas at El Azteco in Lansing, which is a HUGE compliment.

D got the lentil burger with honey mustard and loved it. I used some of his fries to test out the honey mustard, which led to a conversation about why restaurant honey mustard is SO much better than you ever could buy at the store.

I even dipped my vegetarian egg rolls in it, even though they didn't need anything -- it was just that good. The egg rolls were super good. Shouldn't have gotten something fried, since my stomach already was upset, but they were really good.

Even though it's not a veg-only restaurant, it was great to eat somewhere that had more vegetarian and vegan items than meat items on the menu! Everything sounded so good -- I can't wait to go back and try the following from the menu:

• Roasted Curry Lentil Soup
• Vegetarian Mediterranean Pasta Salad
• "Love Basket" -- fries and onion rings!
• Black bean and cheese quesadilla
• Open-Faced Artichoke-Pesto Melt
• Campus Vegetarian Wrap
• The lentil burger -- it looked so good
• Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Cheese Tortellini
• Vegetarian Lasagna (Although I make a mean one myself, I have to say)

There are all kinds of good beers available in pitchers even, and a full bar. Great place to take meat-eaters, too, as there's a variety of fresh seafood items, salads with steak, seafood or chicken, burgers -- you name it!

To top it all off there's great art on the walls, a cool NY-loft-like industrial feel, and the waitstaff couldn't have been nicer.

I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vegan pancakes

I just made the most amazing vegan pancakes for my nephews, one of whom was just found to have an egg white allergy.

Feel free to use regular milk if you're not vegan -- just as yummy!

These took about 3 minutes to make too -- great if you're in a hurry and just want something simple.

Mix together (I find a whisk works great):

1 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 (or a good pinch) of salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 c. milk (soy/regular/rice, etc.)

Mix up and cook on a griddle heated at medium for a couple of minutes a side. Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cheesy Garlicky Biscuits (a la Red Lobster)

These are the easiest, most delicious biscuits ever! I haven't been to Red Lobster in over a decade, but who can forget these biscuits. Now I never have to go back. :)


1/2 c. shredded cheese*
2 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk*
1/2 c (or less) melted butter
1/4 tsp. garlic salt

Preheat oven to 450.

Mix, by hand, the Bisquick, milk and cheese (I used a little extra cheese. Couldn't help it).

Drop spoonfuls of the sticky batter onto a cookie sheet (I sprayed with Pam, but I think it was unnecessary). For me, it made about 10 good-sized biscuits. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

While they are baking, melt butter and mix in the garlic salt (I, of course, added extra garlic powder and would probably try fresh garlic next time -- this was an impulse bake, so I was unprepared!)

As soon as you take them out of the oven, brush biscuits with melted garlic butter. I put it on pretty generously and still had some leftover, so I'll probably melt less butter next time.

They melt in your mouth and I'm pretty sure they go right to your hips, but who cares. Enjoy!

* I'm going to go ahead and guess that these would work out just as well with soy cheese and soy or rice milk. Worth a shot!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Eat Your Greens

Here's a picture of my new little man, Nolis, the handsome son of L & C, just begging me to come back to Chicago to meet him.

He's sporting the onesie I sent him as a "welcome to the world" gift. Just thought I would share!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sweet and Sour Tofu

For three years I've heard from D, "I don't like Chinese food."

In fact, the only thing I've ever made that D didn't even try (when I attempted and failed my friend's chutney) was because it smelled like Chinese food.

ANYWAY, I'm a nanny, which also includes cooking for the family. A family favorite of theirs is mother-in-law's sweet and sour pork/chicken. I've made it several times, eventually perfecting it for the family after about five tries. Each time dying to snatch a taste because it smells so, so good.

SO, casually the other day, I said, "How does sweet and sour tofu sound for tonight," and got no argument. ("Maybe he doesn't realize it's Chinese food," I thought.)

I slightly changed the recipe, since there was no need to boil the tofu like you do the meat, but I still needed the leftover clove-infused water. For some reason, taking the meat out of the equation, made the recipe that much easier to prepare.

I managed to whip it up in about a half hour, got it on the table with chopsticks and even fortune cookies. Then came the moment of truth...

"This is delicious. Every time you make something it's my new favorite thing."


Here's the recipe:

6-8 whole cloves
2 c. water
5 T. cornstarch (separated)
1 stick butter/margarine/similar
Olive oil
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce + 2 T.
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. ginger
2 peppers (green, red, orange, yellow)
1 medium onion
1 pkg. tofu
1 small can pineapple chunks

1. Boil the water with the cloves. Just boil for a couple of minutes to infuse the water with the cloves.*

2. Drain pineapple juice into some type of measuring cup (hopefully a 2 c. one). Fill up to 1 1/2 c. line with the clove water. (Remove cloves!)

3. Drain tofu and cut into cubes. Whisk together 2 T. each of cornstarch and soy sauce, then toss with tofu.

4. Fry in some of the butter and oil (it's not a science here -- whatever works, add more if you need more so your tofu gets all nice and crispy and doesn't stick to the pan).

5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook chunked up peppers, onions and the pineapple in a bit of the butter and/or oil.

6. Once all that's cooking and on its way (remember to keep tossing the tofu so it gets crispy all over!) it's time to make the sauce!

In small saucepan:

• Melt 1/4 c. butter
• Whisk in 3 T cornstarch


• 1/2 c. sugar
• 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
• 1/4 c. soy sauce
• 1/4 tsp. ginger
• the 1 1/2 c. liquid (clove water/pineapple juice)

Stir constantly until thick.

7. Add the crispy tofu to the peppers, onion and pineapple.

8. Pour sauce into the pan and mix it all up.

9. Serve over brown rice (or your preferred rice).

10. Enjoy!

* If you're cooking with meat, boil cubes of chosen meat in the clove water, remove cloves, drain (and reserve per recipe) and let meat cool before tossing in soy-cornstarch mixture and frying. Set aside, cook veggies in same pan, add tofu back to pan to heat through before adding sauce.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New favorite dressing!

Here is a new dressing I've fallen in love with! It's supposed to be good on cooked veggies (warm or cooled) and I've had 3 salads in the last 24 hours with it.

Below are the amounts for a single serving (or for 1-2 lbs. cooked veggies) and if you want some to keep in the refrigerator for multiple uses (those amounts in parentheses).

I'll have to test out some variations, but I would guess this would be really good with some lemon in it, garlic (maybe even whole cloves for flavor), or even a little honey. Seems like it would be a really good mayo alternative for some potato salad and would probably be really good with some fresh herbs.


2 T. (1/2 c.) olive oil

1T (1/4 c.) white wine vinegar

1 tsp. (4 tsp.) Dijon mustard

dash or two each (1/2 tsp. each) salt and pepper

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Patel's Indian Cuisine

Always on the lookout for something good to eat in a pinch, the other day I picked up a couple of packages Patel's Cuisine meals.

First up today was Aloo Mutter -- a spicy bowl of potato and green peas in a red curry sauce. Two minutes in the microwave and it was ready to go -- hot and spicy, spicy. Slightly TOO spicy, for my taste, but still with great flavor. I just wish I had some jasmine rice to pour it over.

Besides the obvious drawback of the pile of sodium that always accompanies these types of meals, this is one of the best like it that I've had. All natural, no preservatives, only a handful of ingredients and, of course, vegetarian.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crispy Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

New recipe time! It's been a long time, I know. I've got a backlog of things I've made in the last few months. The pictures are taken, the food is eaten. I just have to find the time to share them!

But I'll start with last night's victory. I was setting out to the grocery store to buy things to make dinner for some friends I decided could use a good, home-cooked meal. Then I realized, 'Hey, we could use a good home-cooked meal."

I was in a hurry though, and when I get in these moods, I like to try something new. With my keys and purse already in hand, I grabbed a few back issues from my pile of Vegetarian Times stacked next to my cookbooks and started flipping through. I wasn't sure what I was looking for -- few ingredients, easy and fast -- since it would be late by the time I got back from dropping off the meal to Chris and Jess and my chief taste-tester, Dan, would be famished.

Although it was the picture of the Artichoke and Green Olive Souffle that caught my attention on page 32 of the February 2009 issue, I scanned down the page to find a recipe for Crispy Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms. I had no clue whether Dan liked Brussels sprouts or gnocchi, but I decided I didn't care and I would go for it anyway.

Turns out, he didn't know whether he liked either. And he didn't know what he was about to eat. But the first bite brought out the best reaction I've ever gotten from any food I've ever made. Ever.

"OH. MY. GOD. Oh, my god! This is the best thing I've ever eaten!"

SO, here it is:

2 Tbsp. butter (real or vegan, etc.)
1 16-oz. pkg frozen gnocchi (I used some that wasn't frozen, and wasn't traditional -- I bought Gia Russa whole wheat gnocchi with sweet potato. Vegan. Delicious. I popped it in the freezer for a couple of hours before I cooked it.)
2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered -- about 4 cups (Holiday Market didn't have creminis, so I went with baby bellas. They were great, but I think I'll try shitakes next time for the hell of it.)
8 oz. Brussels sprouts (I ended up using about 10 fresh sprouts, sliced the long way)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional (I used regular grated because it's what I had)

1. Heat butter in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add gnocchi and cook 4 to 5 minutes, turning often, until both sides are browned. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Pour 1 tsp. oil into pan and add mushrooms. Cook 7 minutes or until mushrooms have cooked down and all liquid is cooked off. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and transfer to bowl with gnocchi.

3. Pour remaining oil into pan and add Brussels sprouts. Saute 5 to 7 minutes, until crisp-tender. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Return mushrooms and gnocchi to pan and saute a couple of more minutes to heat through.

4. Transfer to plates or a platter and garnish with cheese. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sugar Kisses is back!

Sugar Kisses Bakery, which offers all kinds of delicious vegan treats (and much, much more) is back in business after relocating to Berkley.

Get all the gooey details on their Web site, and be sure to stop by soon!

Below are some of the delicious offerings at Sugar Kisses!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Best Vegetarian: Inn Season Cafe

Real Detroit Weekly has just come out with its "Best of Detroit" list and one of my favorite area restaurants made the cut!

Here's what they had to say about Inn Season Cafe:

Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Inn Season

Even if you enjoy a good old steak now and again, the Inn Season vegetarian restaurant will make you forget that your meal is lacking in the animal department. All of their food is made from organic, locally grown ingredients and the menu options vary depending on what’s in season, so you know your guaranteed freshness. From salads to pizza to pasta, you’ll find something to satisfy your hunger whether you’re a herbivore, carnivore or anything in between.

I agree with all of the above. Due to a very generous Christmas gift certificate, Daniel and I ate there about two or three times over the course of a week or two.

I fell in love with this:

Enchiladas Coloradito
Corn tortillas wrapped around black beans and your choice of cheese
or soy cheese. Garnished with house-made ancho chile salsa, sautéed onions, tomatoes, green pepper,black olives and organic brown rice.

D fell in love with this:

Portabella Walnut Pizza
Portabella mushroom, garlic roasted walnuts, capers, fresh basil, tomato
sauce and cheese or soy cheese.

They've also got great stir-fries, four different types of burgers, gorgeous salads (love their house dressing), and a Sunday brunch menu that includes house granola, multigrain pancakes and all kinds of vegan and veggie goodness.

There are so many things on their menu I hope to try for brunch, lunch, dinner, desserts everything. Even if you're a meat eater, you will love this place. Everything tastes so flavorful and the place just has a good vibe (yes, I sound like a hippie, but it's true).

Trader Joe's Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas

Delicious. Cheap. Vegan. Three things that are very good when it comes to looking for things I can take to work for lunch.

I decided to give a couple of things from Trader Jose's (Get it? Jose?) frozen goods and went with the black bean and corn enchiladas and I'm in love.

For about $2 you get two enchiladas that are dairy and wheat free.

Here's what's in them, some items in the sauce and some in the actual enchiladas (all items organic):

• White corn tortilla cooked in water with a hint of lime
• Tomatoes
• Soybeans
• Black beans
• Zucchini
• Yellow corn
• Onions
• Bell peppers
• Black olives (don't let this stop you if you don't like them -- I had no clue they were in there)
• Garlic, green chiles spices, etc.

If you eat both (I mean, who doesn't?) It has 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein and small amounts of vitamins A&C and 10 percent of the RDA of calcium and iron.

So, the next time you're at Trader Joe's, give them a shot. You won't be sorry!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Guest Post: "Meat"Loaf

One of my BFF's Sally made this for a friend who requested comfort food for her birthday. From Sal:

So i kinda last minute invented this meatloaf recipe and to my surprise it was awesome - everyone including the meat eaters loved it and asked for the recipe!
I kinda was making it up as i went along, but it was pretty simple. Let me know what you think!


1 package Morning Star faux beef crumbles
----- I thawed in microwave for 1 min to make it easier to work with
mix with 2 eggs in medium bowl
chop up 3-4 slices of bread and add to "meat"/egg mixture
add about a 1/4 cup milk more or less - little at a time to a meatloafy consistancy
----saute about
1/2c diced yellow onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 stick of celery and about a 1/4 of a red pepper
just until soft
add this to the "meaty" mix and stir it up good
oh yeah- and i added some onion salt, paprika, a little black and red pepper
i sprayed the bread pan with a little spray on oil
then just smoosh it in there and throw some ketchup on top!

bake at 350 for 40min

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Martha does vegetarian

I have stolen at least one of these recipes in recent months.

Check out Martha Stewart's Everyday Food vegetarian recipes.

Judging on the one I've made, you won't be sorry.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Leave my food alone!

There is an online petition that has been started to stop HR 875 -- I've signed it and so should you!

In its current form, the bill could prevent small local organic farms and community gardeners from growing and selling you nutritious, truly fresh, organic produce. It would crush our small local food producers by imposing heavy government regulation that only large corporations could adhere to. Imagine:

* No more farmers markets.
* No more garden fresh, seasonal ingredients from the local farmer at your favorite restaurant.
* No more roadside stands with fresh picked sweet corn, juicy ripe tomatoes, or refreshing
watermelons in the summer.

Americans would essentially be forced to only eat corporately manufactured, chemically treated, hermetically sealed, irradiated fruits and vegetables. Stop this abomination now.

To prevent this bill, act now by signing the petition!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My partner in crime

I thought I should introduce one of my kitchen partners in crime -- Claire. She's a great help in the kitchen and even got for Christmas from some of our friends an apron/towel/oven mitt set.

She was asking me for a couple of days last week if we could make a dessert. I didn't have much on hand to make anything special, but I knew I had a random can of pumpkin in the cupboard. This kid LOVES pumpkin things. So we settled for pumpkin muffins.

Betty Crocker's classic cookbook had a recipe for pumpkin bread, so I did a variation of that (minus the nuts and raisins of course -- kids!). Anyway, I just though I would share some photos of Claire from that night. I think she looks right at home in the kitchen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mexican pizza

Actually, I'm not sure if that's what this four-layered goodness is supposed to be called, but that's what I'm going to call it. Last week my sister handed me a stack of recipes she ripped out of magazines in previous months and said, "Pick five of these to make next week."

This was number one on the list. I made it for her family, then made the same exact thing (but with soy cheese and a different kind of beer) at my home 2 hours later.

I'm PRETTY sure I remembered the recipe correctly from earlier in the evening.
Here it is!

2 cans black beans
1 med onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat)
1 oz. pkg frozen corn
4-6 green onions
1 12 oz. beer (I think whatever will do. I went with a PBR leftover from our last party)
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper
4 10-inch tortillas (I went with whole wheat)
1 Tbsp. oil (recipe asked for canola, but I used olive)
2 1/2 c. shredded cheese of choice (I went with 2 different kinds of Veggie Shreds)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, cumin and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions are softened.

2. Add rinsed and drained black beans and beer. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, then lower to med and cook for 8-10 minutes until liquid is reduced and there is almost none left.

3. Remove from heat, add frozen corn and most of diced green onion (set aside some for garnish at the end)

4. Get ready to layer in a 9" springform pan. Using the bottom of the pan as a guide, trim tortillas.

5. Place one tortilla in bottom of pan. Put 1/4 of bean mixture 1/2 c. of cheese. Repeat 3 times.

6. On top of fourth tortilla, place rest of bean mixture and 1 c. of cheese.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and everything is heated through. Top with remaining green onions for garnish.

8. Remove ring from springform pan. Cut wedge slices.

(Ignore the bowl of goodness -- that's just leftover salad
bar toppings with some salad dressing as a side dish)

I ate sour cream with some of mine. My squeeze chose without. You could probably top with all kinds of stuff like salsa, guacamole, black olives or whatever you like!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Amazing food... at a sports bar?

Here are some excerpts from a blog i just posted about my afternoon in Downtown Berkley, when I discovered really good food at a sports bar! it's true:

I decided to go to the sports bar 24 Seconds. Originally, I had planned to go to my favorite pizza joint, Amici's (More about them later. There's so much I want to write about them, I haven't had the time to give them the focus they deserve), but they weren't open yet. So, I took Carrie's word for it that a sports bar would have plenty of vegetarian options.

When I walked inside, my ears immediately were assaulted by cranked up speakers blasting various sporting events. A bowl game here, a basketball game there. I don't think I ever truly adjusted to it, and still don't understand why it had to be THAT loud. But the other, sports-loving patrons seemed to be find with it, not to mention the 20 or so TVs that were plastered throughout the place.

BUT, Carrie was right -- lots of food to choose from. I ended up going with a side of the cucumber, onion, dill salad and a giant grilled vegetable salad for lunch. It had greens, pine nuts, Gorgonzola cheese, tons of grilled veggies including asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes, and had a great citrus balsamic vinaigrette with it, and was served over toasted ciabatta bread points.

Who knew -- at a sports bar! I'd go back again for sure. Just maybe not during bowl game season...

Check out the full blog HERE.